Last month, Econsultancy and Adobe published their Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing: 2014 Digital Trends. According to Econsultancy, the report highlights key digital trends, challenges and opportunities which marketers need to be aware of during 2014, and is based on a global survey of more than 2,500 marketers and internet professionals.
While their findings won’t be a surprise to most digital strategists and customer experience practioners, they speak volumes for the rapidly increasing awareness of a trend critical for any executive to not only understand, but embrace.
The news isn’t just that the top two greatest opportunities for corporations are customer experience and mobile. From my perspective, it’s the overlap between these opportunities. Because mobile is increasingly at the center of customer experience – and is rapidly becoming the initial point of contact for consumer and business customers, leading off the multi/cross channel experiences that are becoming the norm across industries and segments.
Mobile is Quickly Becoming Primary Choice For Customer Engagement
The stunningly swift shift in consumer adoption of mobile as a way to engage with the companies that serve them has its roots in the “smartphone.” While mobile phones have been common for nearly 2 decades, the smartphone has created a deeper emotional connection with users, as consumers keep their phones less than 6 feet away and look at them an average of 84 times a day.
Consider that in 2012, 1.2 billion people had smartphones. And by 2017, Forrester Research predicts that number will more than double, to 2.3 billion. Today, 62 percent of US smartphone users expect your company to have a mobile-friendly website, and 42 percent expect you to have a mobile app. Nearly a quarter expect their mobile experience to change, based on their location.
Already, people around the world are just as (if not more) likely to turn to their smartphone as to friends or family when a question comes up, or they’re looking for advice. So what happens when every customer you have expects to be able to access anything about your company, your services and your products, at any time – from wherever they are?
What happens is that mobile becomes the front line for customer experience. Because today’s smartphone isn’t just a phone; it’s a sense-and-respond digital touchpoint that has radically changed the way your customers interact with their worlds. Whether banking, shopping or looking for advice and service, your customers look to their phones for just about everything.
So the question isn’t whether or not mobile is important; it’s how ready you are to deliver the mobile experiences your customers demand.
Four (Initial) Steps to Mobile Experience Mastery
Mastering the mobile customer experience isn’t much more complex than mastering your overall customer experience. Why? Because mobile is so central to any customer experience strategy, if you address the one, you’ll almost certainly address the other.
That said, here are four mobile-centric things you can do today to begin the process. By no means is this all – the importance of digital customer experience strategy and design are crucial – but these can get your mobile experience kick-started, if you’re looking for a place to start.
One: Map your mobile customer journeys
What happens today, when a customer picks up their smartphone and interacts with your company? Do they go to your app first? Or maybe your website? What are they trying to accomplish? What steps do they have to take to do so? The first step is understanding the scenarios that exist, and the mobile touchpoints encountered along the way.
Two: Understand how mobile changes what customers want and need
Customer experience is all about understanding customer expectations, and meeting them. The only way this changes when a phone is involved is to understand – exactly – how your customers expect to use their phones to interact with your company, and where those expectations are (and aren’t) being met.
Three: Understand their multi-channel experience
Your customers are using their phones as one of many channels – this isn’t a surprise. What is different, is that mobile is more often a key part of a single experience that crosses multiple channels; a single customer journey can start on the phone, jump to the web, end up at the call center or in-store. To deliver an optimal mobile experience, you need to know how mobile “fits” with other channels.
Four: Look for new ways to create sense-and-respond experiences
From customers increasing expectation of location-aware services to the ability of their phones to send (and receive) massive amounts of data about or for your customers, smartphones are the poster-child for smart touchpoints. Seek new ways to leverage digital information and innovation to help your customers do, buy, think, and learn the things that matter most to them.
For years, we’ve been advising executives to get ready for the rise of smart customers. In the face of a radically changing, digitally-driven shift in innovation, engagement and the very meaning of what it means to be a brand, mobile is not only redefining customer experience today, but promises to continue doing so in the future.
By really understanding what customers expect from your company as they interact through their phones, you’ll be in a position to create the kinds of unique, highly-differentiated experiences that can truly set you apart.
This blog originally ran on CMO.com, where Michael Hinshaw writes the weekly “Get Customer-Centric” blog.
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